Monday, 7 March 2011

Guest Post: Charlotte Willcocks

It is the time of year....students are either looking for placement years, placement weeks or even placement days! So I thought it would be a good idea for one student who has been through the process to share her hints and tips with you about:

How to gain experience with no experience!

The catch 22 nature of the work experience world is well known. Employers expect you to already have experience, but you are looking to them for guidance on getting some industry experience. The whole process can be extremely frustrating. Over the last five months I have experienced this first hand, the weeks of tedious application forms and covering letters followed by the agonising wait for a reply that may never come.

Therefore the best defence is a strong offence, it is vital to make yourself stand heads and shoulders above the hundreds of the hopefuls. The most effective way of doing this is to think about the transferable skills necessary for the industry you are interested in and think of other ways to gain this skills other than industry experience, if this is not an option. Here are some methods that I used to secure my own placement:

1. Get involved in a society committee – this will give you the opportunity to practice public speaking, meeting organisation, event organisation, networking, leadership and team working skills, which I have found to be invaluable for my PR portfolio.

2. Start a blog – Due to the fast paced nature of PR it is vital to get to grips with new media. I started a music blog to act as a practice run and to find my own writing style.

3. Tweet, Tweet- It may be hard to get your head around but Twitter is one of the quickest and easiest ways to follow and chat to practitioners within the industry.

4. Persistence is the key – If there is a reply you are really counting on and you haven’t heard from them in a while, there’s no harm in emailing them, even if it’s to find out why they haven’t replied and what you can improve on for next time.

5. Create a LinkedIn page – Not only is this a good way to increase your presence online, it can act as a helpful tool when you get to the interview stage to get some background knowledge on those interviewing you.

6. Be Creative – This is not something that can be done with all companies, but if it is a creative firm you are applying to make your application stand out by using different media, such as YouTube.

I found that by implementing these methods I was able to prove that I was serious about PR with no formal industry experience and create an impressive portfolio of work, which led to me catching the attention of a highly respected consumer consultancy in London, Frank PR, who offered me a twelve month placement.

So in the end there is a way around the catch 22 nature of the placement search, it’s just about proving that you have put in the extra effort to secure the certain transferable skills that make you the perfect candidate for the position.


Charlotte Willcocks is a 2nd year Business and Public Relations student at the University of Lincoln. She has bagged herself a 12 month placement at Frank PR working alongside Jay Sorrels, the head of digital at Frank PR. I'd like to take this opportunity to say: Good luck Charlotte!


  1. Congrats of the placement with Frank, Charlotte. Great place to be getting work experience from! Will have to meet for a coffee when you are in London :)

  2. "In addition to those six methods: volunteering in a nonprofit organization could add up to your resume. Aside from that, you are also helping the community at the same time. For instance, you want to be employed as a secretary but the company requires experience. That's when the nonprofit organization comes into play. :) And when you're hired, make sure to be on time. Volunteering also requires determination and more importantly, the heart for the job so you'll have a good evaluation.

    It's an honor for a blog-owner to have his/her blog shortlisted for the Euprera Social Media Awards 2010 - I'm impressed. I bet the competition was stiff, Carli."